Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fifth after Pentecost, 2008

June 15, 2008 Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (RCL Proper 6A) Matthew 9:35-10:8

Baptism of Dylan Michael Marsden and Blake Andrew Wilmot

This baptismal morning the great gathering at the font can open the Word of God sacramentally for us in a language deeper than any preacher can speak. So I’ll keep it brief.

But to say first of all as Dylan and Blake are brought forward by their parents and sponsors, that it is such a privilege for us to be a part of this. Like those who would have been in the crowd by the banks of the Jordan when Jesus went out to John the Baptist, and when the sky opened, and the Spirit came down like a dove, and when those sacred words were pronounced in a kind of benediction over all creation, “This is my beloved Son.” We know something of what it was to stand in that crowd, as we come to the Holy River this morning, and certainly as we know that the Spirit descends to bless and to mark Dylan and Blake and all of us with an anointing of grace and power. Again, and at every baptism, as Jesus is recognized and proclaimed Savior and Lord, the Way, the Truth, the Life. An honor, a privilege for the people of St. Andrew’s, for these two families, for Dylan and Blake, all of us, to be lifted up into his presence and his eternal life.

If I don’t preach a sermon, exactly, I do want to highlight at this service at least one phrase, from this morning's appointed reading from St. Matthew’s gospel, as it describes the life and ministry and character of Jesus. Matthew tells us about Jesus teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the Good News, curing those suffering from disease and sickness of every kind. And then this great phrase, even just a part of a sentence: “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them . . . .”

The Collect of the Day has this key word in it too. It’s an essential word in the vocabulary of the gospel, in the life of Jesus, in the mystery that we encounter in baptism and in the Holy Communion, Christ’s living and redeeming presence, meeting us where we live, in every corner and in every broken place of our lives. Compassion. Which is about not simply some kind of distant sympathy, some sense of do-good social responsibility, but it is about that place where two hearts become one heart and beat together, joined in every moment. About a caring, a feeling, and sharing that is as deep as any two can ever experience. Not something that we run across in our lives very often, but something rare, something precious. An opening of the heart. This is perhaps a way of describing theologically the internal relationships of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit. This was the life-work of Jesus, and it is what we know in him, and what he allows us to become, as best we can, in our lives. In any case, we would remember that last week the word was “mercy,” and this week it is “compassion.” Perhaps we begin to sense a pattern.

And this is the place where it happens, in a way that is all poetry and mystery. The pouring of a little water, a dab of oil on the forehead, a prayer and blessing, and the sky opens, and our life is lifted up into heaven. Into his compassion, his love, his mercy, his life forever. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all of this.

At this time, then, I’d ask that Dylan and Blake and their presenters today, families and godparents, would come to the front of the church. And again, with thanksgiving. It’s an honor and a privilege.

Bruce Robison

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